Condo and Beach House Owners:
Beach decor makes happy renters, so we have gathered some sources for you:
Tropical and Hawaiian Style Home Furnishings
Lighthouse Themed Decorative Items
Discount Fabrics Online and Locally--We have personally ordered great vinyl online for rental condo upholstery in bright pinks and purples for only $4.95 a yard. We bought inexpensive rattan armed furniture and had it locally upholstered.
Ceramic Tile Online
Discount Teak Furniture Online
Patio and Poolside Furniture Online
Vacationers with children want a condo interior or beach house that is designed to be kid friendly and does not put pressure on the parents to constantly monitor the children to avoid breakage, fingerprints, etc... This is suppose to be a VACATION after all, not a time to add stress--no one needs the fear of loosing the damage deposit by kid's accidents.
From years of hearing vacationers & owners comments we have compiled the following generalized guidelines.
Vacationers want a COLORFUL interior--remember, they are only here for a week usually, give them colors they would never choose for their own inland homes. Give them a colorful Caribbean look. Make them feel like they are much further away from home than they really are on a happy tropical island of fun. Forget beige & earthtones.
Vacationers want no-care, hard surfaces on tables, coffee tables, dressers, etc. They do not want to be expected to use a coaster. Alabama and Florida are lands of high humidity, a cold drink is going to form beads of condensation every time. Glass is good, Formica is good, slate is good, granite is good, ...you get the idea. The cleaning services can easily get a hard surface squeaky clean in a hurry, they will not labor over a textured wicker table top so crumbs remain & grime builds up.
Vacationers want a decor with style. Most people do not use interior decorators to create a 'style' in their own family home. Your condo should reflect your chosen, colorful style in every detail, all the way down to the gadgets in the kitchen drawers. Attention to detail pays off in creating a special atmosphere. If you are clueless about style, buy a copy of Coastal Living Magazine at the grocery. They have stylish beach house and condo interiors in every issue.
Vacationers appreciate a FUN atmosphere. Serious is out. Wacky is in. What if the vacationers happen to come during a rainy week---your condo decor should make them feel happy in spite of this. They may have to spend time indoors playing board games, card games or working puzzles, they still want to feel like they are on vacation some place special every time they open that condo or beach house door. If all your tables seat 6 or more, put a folding card table in one of the closets, with a note on the fridge telling them where it is. Many older people come to the beach to play canasta, bridge, etc...families need a 4 place table for board games. Provide some board games, puzzles & card games in a cabinet. Sure you will have to replace them occasionally--big deal, watch for sales at home.
Have tile floors in all the living areas. Nothing is worse than walking into a condo with stained carpet. Some people will not even walk barefoot across yucky looking carpet. Some people do not want to even spend the night there even if everything else looks clean. Why spend $ having your carpet constantly cleaned. Invest in tile. The Gulf Shores and Pensacola areas have many flooring shops that carry low cost tile. Use dark colored grout. The grout is going to get stained in all the traffic areas, it will be dark almost immediately. It only looks dirty to have dark grout in the center of a room and light grout around the walls. Use Hershey Chocolate colored grout--this is the voice of experience talking. Hang a Dustbuster someplace handy in your condo for quick sand clean-ups. Get the Plus model it picks up sand best.
Use high gloss paint on your walls. Vacationers come in and out the door constantly with all manner of paraphernalia. With flat wall paint you ARE going to get scuffs almost immediately. A scuffed wall condo does not look clean and fresh no matter how clean it is. One heavily used condo in Gulf Shores went 10 yrs. before needing a paint touch up after being painted with high quality, high gloss pure white paint even though it has a long narrow entrance hall. Sure the glossy paint is going to cost a few dollars more per gallon, but labor is what you are mostly paying for, and repeat rentals is what you want.
Use clear corner guards on your walls. You can get them at Home Depot or Lowes. They are cheap and well worth the tiny bit of time to put them on.
Use solid dust-ruffles on your beds with comforters. Avoid solid color comforters or bedspreads. It is much easier to find new print comforters to match solid dust ruffles than vice-versa. Teens especially will come in from the beach with suntan oil on and plop on a bed. Use a print design comforter or bedspread with a speckled or texture print design to age gracefully and not show suntan oil spots. When you find good condo bedspreads and comforters at a good price that are a great match for your room's colors--buy a second round and save till you need them. It is hard to go out and find a super sale price on a certain color or print just when you need it. Plus prints get discontinued.
Linen Locker--Located on the Gulf Coast !! Linen Locker is family owned and operated. They have been in bed and bath retail business since 1992. Their store is located in Saraland, near Mobile, Alabama. Linen Locker specializes in helping customers find items not readily available in department stores and they pride themselves in their high level of customer service. Linen Locker is a bed and bath specialty retail store offering bed, bath, and window accessories from Croscill, Laura Ashley, Waverly, Thomasville and other home fashions companies. Be sure to check the Linen Locker Beach and Tropical styles --look at the navigation on left--under STYLES.
You can order a complete kitchen set-up from rental condo specialist outfitter: "A Complete Kitchen" This local company offers several options of well chosen selections for a condo kitchen that receives the heavy use that one in a rental program does. You can run about trying to round all these separate gadgets and kitchenware items yourself, or save your energy for the decorative accessories.
Have wipe clean dining room chairs. Vinyl seats in a bright snappy color are great. Hard surfaces are just fine. Avoid upholstered fabric seats and for goodness sakes, avoid the totally fabric covered 'Parsons' chair. Does not a hurricane bring water indoors often on the floor (not to mention what little toddler hands can do to them). We once read in a local magazine a recommendation from a local decorator shop that you use these chairs as they can be recovered every couple years---Ha! Who are they fooling? They just want to sell you fabric and service over and over. Meanwhile the chairs look dirty.
Make a Local Restaurant Menu Notebook from a clear pocket front 3-Ring Binder and some clear page protector sleeves. Your guests will REALLY appreciate it and it costs you very little. Download and print our colorful Menu Binder covers and spine art to slide into the clear pocket front and edge of the notebook. You can pick one of these 3 ring binders up at Wal-Mart or any office supply store. Then go around to local restaurants and collect the give-away paper carry-out menus to slide into the page protectors. You will find that many are printed on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper and fit perfectly. Others will just have to be left folded. It is helpful to put a date on the menu, so guests can see how old the menu is and know that prices may have changed if the menu is getting old. You will find that your guests will add menus to your notebook and some will make little notes about their experiences at a certain restaurant.
These tips will make a big difference in your REPEAT vacationers.